Journalism of Courage

How Benue will survive economic troubles  – Ortom

  • says 50 convicted over herdsmen/farmers clashes 

The Governor or Benue, Samuel Ortom has reacted to reports indicating that his state was among 17 states that are insolvent as their Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) in 2018 were far below 10 per cent of their receipts from the Federation Account Allocations (FAA) in the same year. 

The governor who said he was in the Presidential Villa to brief President Muhammadu Buhari on the security situation in his state, however disclosed that to be able to pay the N30,000 minimum wage and meet other demands, loopholes will be blocked. 

Ortom said: “The plan is to look inward and see how we can generate more funds, improve on our internally generated revenue (IGR), lock some leakages and see how we can cut down cost of governance and see where that will take us. One thing is that I believe in dialogue and I am ver transparent with my finances, they are for everyone to see. I have been very cordial with workers in Benue State. For me, if I have my way they should even earn more than N30,000 if the resources are there, they deserve it, we go to the same market and so we know the cost of living and other things are involved. The challenge is whether the resources will be there. I believe that we will look for ways and I believe it is not only Benue State, there are about 17 states…all together maybe at governors forum, there will be away to get out of it.”

The Economic Confidential in its Annual States Viability Index (ASVI) for 2018, showed that 17 states of the 36 states are insolvent as their Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) in 2018 were far below 10 per cent of their receipts from the Federation Account Allocations (FAA) in the same year. 

The index computed by the report revealed that without the monthly disbursement from Federal Accounts Allocation Commission, many of the states remained unviable and cannot survive without the federally distributed handouts largely from the oil sector. 

The IGRs are generated by states through Pay-As-You-Earn Tax (PAYE), direct assessment, road taxes and revenues from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). 

The IGR of the 36 states of the federation totalled N1.1 trillion in 2018 as compared to N931 billion in 2017, an increase of N172 billion. 

The governor said since Nigeria is a federation, there must be synergy between states and the federal government to be able to surmount the security challenges, to be able to safe lives and properties.

Ortom on the situation on Katsina Ala/Taraba road, said, all the stakeholders in the state are willing to cooperate to address insecurity situation but for one notorious criminal “Gana,” who was trained by Boko Haram that has continued to terrorize the state.

“He (Gana) is the one instrumental to the Kidnappings happening between Benue and Taraba State. All forms of criminality – armed robbery, assassinations and so on. The community too have given up because as at today, the three local governments of Katsina Ala, Ukum and Bukun are not safe. No educational, farming, commercial activities are going on, the Igbos that are major traders have vacated. With operation Y Stroke we are going to move against them and we believe we will be able to surmount them.

“On herdsmen and farmers, the place is relatively peaceful. The law is being implemented and we have arrested 400 people irrespective of their ethnic background, whether Fulani, Igbos, Yoruba, Tiv, Idoma and we have convicted 50 people for contravening various offenses and we have seized more than 2,000 cattle. But we have ensured no one has molested any cattle, nor kill any cattle. Once your cattle is seized for open grazing by the livestock guard, within seven days when your cattle is quarantined if you don’t come to pay fines and redeem your cattle we auction them off. So far, everyone that we have arrested people have come to redeemed them and so we have not had any cause to auction any cattle. 

“The law is still in force in Benue State and we are implementing it. Everyone is free to establish ranch, we are not targeting any individual or group. Anyone who wants to do cattle business should come to Benue and ranch, that we have land for it but for open grazing we have no land.

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